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Cries and whispers: exhuming and narrating defeat in Spain today

AuthorsFerrándiz Martín, Francisco
KeywordsAntropología de la Violencia y el Sufrimiento Socia
Fosas Comunes
Políticas de Dignificación
Políticas de la Memoria
Justicia Transnacional
Guerra Civil española
Issue DateJul-2008
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationJournal of Spanish Cultural Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2. (July 2008), pp. 177-192.
AbstractIn this paper, I will reflect on the impact in contemporary Spain of the production, circulation and consumption of narratives and images of Civil War terror and suffering, specifically those resulting from the opening of mass graves from the Francoist repression. This sharing of narratives has to be seen in the context of a broader and highly controversial process of reconsideration of the Civil War as a traumatic past. At a time when Spanish society is engaged in important debates regarding the singularity or plurality of our identity and the structure of our territorial organization, these exhumations are bringing to light rather disturbing information regarding our past, our present, and probably our future as well. The excavation of these “crime scenes” in various parts of the country is provoking heated discussions and performances in family contexts, politics, historiography, the media, the arts, and the public sphere in general. For example, the public display of skeletons, skulls and bone fragments bearing the marks of violence – from “perimortem” tortures to bullet wounds and coups de grâce – is bringing back tragic stories that, for many relatives but also for civil society at large, were for decades mostly silenced, told in whispers, imperfectly transmitted in limited family circles, or simply ignored. The screen of silence, fear and self-censorship has been particularly strong in local, rural contexts. Exhumation and narration are inextricably entwined. Exhumations elicit storytelling; conversely, their meaning and social impact depend on the available repertoire of competing “memory plots".
Publisher version (URL)http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/14636200802283704
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